HC Deb 01 November 1989 vol 159 cc309-10
8. Mr. Cran

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans he has to implement the recommendations put forward in the Kemp report on status option for the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

Mr. Ridley

The interdepartmental working group of officials formed to consult interested parties and to advise Ministers on the Kemp review of status options for ECGD has just submitted its report to me. No decisions have yet been taken.

Mr. Cran

Would my right hon. Friend like to take this opportunity to reject the doomwatch notions of those who suggest that the Government are merely using this review to cut dramatically finance for projects business on the premise that only large companies benefit from it? Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is bunkum, particularly against the background of a recent northern engineering industries' report which suggests that a recent Indian order benefited 2,600 small United Kingdom companies?

Mr. Ridley

I have not come to any decision about the report. I will do so as soon as I possibly can. I am interested to hear my hon. Friend's views.

Mr. Hoyle

Will the right hon. Gentleman take into account the fact that the Kemp report asks the Government to take a large-scale risk while introducing private investment into the insurance by ECGD of safe countries? Surely that must be wrong and surely state agencies should be allowed more flexibility to operate so that they can take large risks and benefit from taking the easier option as well?

Mr. Ridley

The Export Credits Guarantee Department does two things. There is the projects group and the insurance services group. It is suggested by Kemp that they should have different futures and that they should go in different directions. It is important to discuss one or the other of those suggestions but we cannot discuss them both at once.

Mr. Page

Does my right hon. Friend accept that the best support he can give British industry on overseas projects and sales is to create a worldwide international level playing field? Will my right hon. Friend work towards that goal? While doing so, will he support the present ECGD aid and trade provisions that are consistent with competition until he achieves that goal of fair international competition?

Mr. Ridley

I agree about the objective which my hon. Friend describes. Our objective in the European single market is to create just that. As for projects outside Europe, it is difficult to align the different forms of aid and credit subsidies that different countries put together. There is no consensus on how they should be constructed. This is a most difficult matter on which to get a playing field without any bumps.